KENYA CIVIL AVIATION LIFTS SUSPENSION OF SILVERSTONE DASH 8 OPERATIONS BUT AIRLINE SERVES REDUNDANCY NOTICES ANYWAY
(Posted 20th November 2019)
When news emerged in Nairobi yesterday that KCAA’s Director General Capt. Gilbert Kibe had lifted the suspension of Dash 8 operations for Silverstone Air, were comments received by ATCNews from regular readers and sources from within Kenya’s aviation fraternity not by any standards impressed with the decision taken.
Having last week already taken exception to the KCAA ‘directive‘ to move aircraft operations for planes in excess of 7 tons from Wilson Airport to a chronically overburdened Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, calling the move ‘shooting from the hip‘, ‘a professional folly‘ and ‘seeking an escape hatch into the void‘ has KCAA not exactly impressed those the organization is to regulate.
‘KCAA ought to shift their attention to the state of Wilson Airport. Kenya Airport Authority, stung by pictures and a series of very negative comments by passengers but of course also from ATCNews at the time, only repaired the potholes outside the main passenger departure lounge and the parking areas visible by arriving and departing passengers but a lot more work was left untouched. Runway potholes are a cause for tires deflating when you hit one on landing. We here at Wilson still hear that KAA is mobilizing funds. It is here the regulator should crack down, not trying to shift traffic from Wilson to JKIA. Wilson has a quintessential function. Many of the passengers flying from there to the coast or upcountry do so because of the distance to JKIA but also because of the hassle passenger experience there. Wilson is much more user friendly compared to JKIA, we know it, passengers know it and only KCAA does not seem to know it. Wilson has at least two runways, JKIA continues to have just one and any incident on it brings traffic to a standstill. I think Bwana Kibe and his people should consult better in the future before coming up with such decisions which do not benefit anyone except putting up a smokescreen over so many other issues‘ a regular contributor to ATCNews’ aviation reporting commented last week.
Meanwhile, though ‘officially‘ cleared by KCAA, has Silverstone yet to relaunch their scheduled Dash 8 passenger flights which were suspended following two incidents involving the airline.
Instead was it learned yesterday that the airline had served their crews with redundancy notices on the day prior to getting the thumbs up again from KCAA allowing them to resume flights with this aircraft type.
At the same time was it discovered by ATCNews that the company’s website www.silverstoneair.com is down, giving the following feedback:
Fatal error: Can’t use function return value in write context in /home/silvers3/public_html/wp-content/plugins/theme-core/shortcodes.php on line 331
This more than anything else is an indicator that things are not well at Silverstone Air, as in the absence of any website access no online booking access is possible and no flights can be booked.
There have been no Tweets on the company’s twitter handle since November 12th (www.twitter.com/silverstoneair) nor any official statements on the airline’s Facebook Page either (https://www.facebook.com/silverstoneair/)
These developments leave questions begging for answers as the company’s management and owners remain silent over their next moves, in corporate circles a most ominous sign of things to come.
Suggestions have been made from sources close to the company that Silverstone Air, to a good part as a result of unsustainably low fares, was incurring heavy operational losses, perhaps the real reason behind the redundancy notices.
Earlier this year had Air Kenya withdrawn from their coastal routes to Lamu, Malindi and Ukunda, citing heavy competition on fares and pricing and rather opting to shift their aircraft capacity to other, subsequently more profitable routes. It was on the routes to Lamu, Mombasa and Ukunda, where Silverstone Air’s low fares had the biggest impact on the passenger numbers of other airlines operating out of Wilson Airport.
As always only time will tell where this is heading and what the future holds for the Silverstone Air staff and the company itself.